An odd phenomenon is gaining momentum in the village we live in. It’s one that I am not keen on, but seems to be spreading like wild-fire.
Joint birthday parties.
Okay. What’s wrong with that, you may be asking?
There have been a couple of joint parties this year, where two kids have got together for their birthday celebrations. The school allows private parties in the hall for free, IF all children in the class are invited. Bear in mind that it is actually two separate Montessori years that work very closely together, so a total of around 40 children. I never gave it a great deal of thought, thinking that perhaps the kids or parents were friends, and they just found it easier to combine parties.
That was until I received an email from the father of a child who has recently had a joint party with another boy. He was bemoaning the fact that the party generated too many presents. I know. How horrible. Evil parents of party-going children, you should be ashamed of yourselves!
His email declared his intention to wage a one-man campaign against joint parties involving only two participants. He wanted there to be one joint party every season; so we’re talking about celebrations for 10 children per go. This made us scratch our head a bit. Surely, ten children generate MORE presents, and not fewer? Each child would still get one present from every guest. Wouldn’t they? So, the logistics would be horrific. Yes, admittedly, one party a season might be easier to organise if you all pitched in – but could you imagine turning up with (and paying for) ten presents? You’d need a wheelbarrow to transport them all!
Anyway, we dismissed the whole thing as faintly ridiculous, had a little laugh about Swedish people, sent a thanks, but no thanks, email, and then forgot about it.
Until the next email arrived. This time from someone asking if anyone would like to have a joint party with their daughter.
And then another one, this time, more specific – they asked, as my son’s birthday is in May, would we like to join in with their child. How do they know my son’s birthday is in May? He has only been in the school since August, so he has not had any other birthdays. Where have they got his personal information from? Granted, them having his date of birth is not going to crumble national security, but even so; it’s not something I feel particularly comfortable with.
So, the whole thing has moved from being ridiculous to rather annoying.
Firstly, what kind of party we have is up to my son. He doesn’t want a big party full of kids he doesn’t particularly like. He wants a small party at home, with some of his best friends. And you know what, I have to agree with him. When your six, you deserve to have a special day, where the emphasis is on you, and not shared with several other children. So, he will have his little party, and I am sure he will enjoy it.
I have replied to two of the emails, explaining my take on things, but received no response. I guess if your face (or party etiquette) doesn’t fit, you’re not deemed worthy of a reply!
This got me thinking about Swedish mentality. They remind me of sheep. They follow anyone they perceive to be a leader – and in this case, the guy brazen enough to send a circular email with his views to 40 other parents. There is a real feeling of one-up-man-ship here. Or, it would be more accurate to say that it is all about keeping up with, although not necessarily better than, the Joneses (or Johanssons). There is a tangible need to fit in, to be on the same level as everyone else; it doesn’t seem okay to stand out of a crowd, figuratively speaking, or be different. They can also be incredibly anal, everything is done to the letter, correct and in its place.
Seriously though, this shouldn’t actually be life or death. It’s parties, for goodness sake! Come on Swedes – throw caution to the wind, and throw your child their OWN party!